Wine: An Efficient Choice... Usually
Unlike beer, wine is much easier to gauge from an efficiency standpoint. Most wine is near 100%, meaning that almost all calories are from alcohol. Beyond that, there is one important distinction to determine efficiency and calories: not red wine vs. white wine, but rather dry vs. sweet. Dry wine ferments almost all of the grape juice, leaving little residual sugar (related blog post coming soon). So, dry wine has few empty calories. Sweet wine, however, has either residual or added sugar, therefore more calories and lower efficiency. Note that anything labeled wine product is probably not a great choice for efficiency, or anything else, for that matter.
Winemakers publish ABV (alcohol by volume) but not calories. So, to be sure, stick with traditional varietals and blends, which all tend towards dry. Although the list is long, below are some examples:
Basic is a general guide for any of the efficient varietals listed above. 4g/L sugar is assumed.
Note: A typical glass is 5 oz. and a typical bottle is 750mL.
Dessert and Sweet Wines
This subclass of wine is less efficient than the traditional varietals. There is a significant amount of empty calories resulting from unfermented or added sugars. Let's take a look at a few different sweet wines' ABV, sugar content and efficiency:
- Port - The fermentation process is halted by the addition of brandy. As a result, port has lots of alcohol and sugar. Using representative values of 20% ABV and 100g/L of sugar in the advanced calculator yields 73.2% efficiency and 1120 calories per bottle of port. Good thing a traditional serving is about 3 oz, which would be closer to 133 calories.
- Moscato d'Asti- This type of Moscato uses very sweet grapes that overripen on the vine. Fermentation is ended prematurely and the result is an extremely sweet wine with relatively low alcohol. Using values of 5.5% ABV and 120g/L of sugar yields just 38.5% efficiency and 586 calories per bottle.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine
The sugar level, which is driven by post-fermentation sugar addition determines its classification and drives champagne's calories and efficiency. From least sugar to most, with estimated (calories per 750 mL bottle | efficiency) :
- Brut Natural / Brut Zero (500 | 99%)
- Extra Brut (510 | 98%)
- Brut (525 | 95%)
- Extra Sec / Extra Dry (540 | 91%)
- Sec (570 | 87%)
- Demi-Sec (615 | 80%)
- Doux (650+ | < 76%)